Baroque Four Baroque 1600-1750 Projects Essay

Length: 12 pages Sources: 16 Subject: Architecture Type: Essay Paper: #12351052 Related Topics: Baroque Art, William Carlos Williams, Louis Xiv, Treaty Of Versailles
Excerpt from Essay :

In this regard it should also be noted that the architect faced a number of obvious constraints in his design of the Square. These constraints were from existing structures such as the Vatican Palace as well as the granite fountain. To incorporate these constraints into his design "

Bernini made the fountain appear to be one of the foci of the ovato tondo embraced by his colonnades and eventually matched it on the other side, in 1675, just five years before his death" and " the trapezoidal shape of the piazza, which creates a heightened perspective for a visitor leaving the basilica & #8230;is largely a product of site constraints. (Saint Peter's Square)

2.3. Construction

The construction of the square started in 1656 and was completed twelve years later, in 1667. A central aspect that formed a focal point of the contractions was the Vatican Obelisk. This has a long and interesting history. The obelisk measures 41 meters or 135ft, including the pedestal and was originally located at Heliopolis in Egypt and was built for Cornelius Gallus, the city's prefect. (St. Peter's Square: Piazza San Pietro) the obelisk was moved to Rome by the Emperor Caligula in AD 37 to an area now occupied by the Vatican City. (St. Peter's Square: Piazza San Pietro). It was then moved to its present position in 1586 by the architect Domenico Fontana under the direction of Pope Sixtus. (St. Peter's Square (1656-1667)). Bernini used it as the centerpiece of his piazza.

The paving of the square should also be mentioned. The paving is varied in design and construction by the use of radiating lines ?n travertine. This is intended to provide aesthetic appeal by breaking up the monotony of the cobblestones. It is also interesting to note that in 1817 " & #8230;circular stones were set to mark the tip ?f the obelisk's shadow at noon as the sun entered each of the signs of the zodiac, making the obelisk ? gigantic sundial's gnomon." (Saint Peter's Square)

2.4 Significance

The religious and cultural significance of St. Peter's Square is obviously related to its proximity to and integration with the important buildings that surround it. Its importance is also based on the original design intention of the Square; namely to act as an appropriate and architecturally attractive entry point to the Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica)

3. St. Paul's Cathedral (1675 -- 1709)

3.1. Background

St. Paul's Cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks of London with its easily discernable dome. This Church of England cathedral is important from a religious perspective as it is the seat of the Bishop of London and it is dedicated to Paul the Apostle. The church site was founded in AD 604. However, the present church site dates back to the 17th century and was constructed in an English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren, as part of a major rebuilding program which took place in the city after the Great Fire of London. It was completed during his lifetime.

The cathedral has an interesting history, both for a social as well as an architectural point-of-view. There were five different churches built over time on the present site. The first church was built in 604 AD was dedicated to the Apostle Paul. The church was built again at the end of the 7th century by Erkenwald, Bishop of London. On two occasions the cathedral was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt and expanded on each time. Renovations and extensions in the 13th and 14th century enlarged the cathedral even further. (St. Paul's Cathedral) St. Paul's cathedral was the tallest building in London between 1710 and 1962.

The history of the design as well as the construction of the cathedral is complex and linked to many important events in English history. For example, when London was severely damaged by fire in 1666, the church was also damaged and had to be reconstructed. Three years prior to the event, the architect Christopher Wren had been asked to give his assessment of its condition. In 1667 he was put in charge of rebuilding the cathedral along with many of London's other buildings....


Wren was essentially the designer rather than the builder of the new cathedral. What also furthered Wren's design was that an initial repair authorized by the cathedral authorities partially failed in AD 1668, which allowed Wren to push for a completely new construction (Sutcliffe 34). The building was partially paid for through taxies levied on coal imports (Beard 25).

3.2. Design

The design techniques and styles used in the building of St. Paul's Cathedral varied over time. There were also various design ideas that were implemented in the construction of the building over a long time. In this regards it is noteworthy that "…there was no English design context for the new cathedral, owing to the lack of church building since Henry VIII's break with Rome in the 1530s and this gave considerable freedom to Wren." (Sutcliffe 34)

Sir Christopher Wren designed more than fifty London churches. (Who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in the late 17th century?) the first design for St. Paul's Cathedral was based on the classical model. This design was put forward for consideration in 1670. However, this design was altered over time, and led to the Great Model or the Greek Cross Model, which is a domed cross design with a large central space. In the latter design the cathedral was shaped like a Greek cross, with a portico, Corinthian columns and a striking large dome, inspired by Michelangelo's dome at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

However, this design was rejected as being overly dark and non-processional, as well as too Catholic. Demolition work was already under way by this time. (Beard 25) This led to the Wren's final design for the cathedral.

The third design that Wren suggested included a larger nave and smaller dome (St. Paul's Cathedral). This design was accepted in 1675. However, after the approval of this final model, "… Wren enlarged the dome and made several other adjustments so that the built cathedral now resembles the 'Great Model' and not the approved design (St. Paul's Cathedral).

The significance of the design controversy is summarized by Soo as follows: "…the sequence of schemes for St. Paul's demonstrates Wren's empirical, almost arbitrary approach to design" (Soo 462). During construction, the design was continually altered, noticeably affecting the unity of the building.

It is also noteworthy that the Baroque interior is just as imposing as the exterior of the church. Ceiling mosaics were added in 1890 by William Richmond after Queen Victoria complained that there was not enough color in the cathedral. (St. Paul's Cathedral: Greatlondon) the baldachin above the altar was rebuilt in 1958 after being damaged by bombardments during World War II. (St. Paul's Cathedral: Greatlondon) the significance of Wren's design is summarized by Chiu as follows: "… "probably no English cathedral previously had been designed entirely by one man; certainly none had been completed to one man's design and in his life-time" ( Chiu 105).

3.3. Building

The cathedral was built in a relative short time period. The construction began in 1675 and the building was completed in 1711. The foundation stone was laid in 1675 and contracts signed for sand and lime supplies and masonry. Beard writes, "…in all, across the years of building, 1675 -- 1709, 41 contracts were entered into for mason's work, supplies of stone, bricks and bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, smiths, sand, lime, carving, paving, gilding, and the Great Organ" ( Beard 28). All were entered into a contracts book and signed by the commissioners

Beard provides the following brief summary of the building process:

…. By 1678 the choir was eight meters up and preparations were being made for dome support; by the 1690s, metal screens and woodcarving for the interiors were on-going and the organ had been ordered; the final solution for the dome came in 1704; and the upper stories of the cathedral with its balustrade were completed in 1718. ( Chiu 105)

The actual painting of the dome only began until the middle of 1715. While there were many who worked on the building, studies of its progressive construction note that the building process was in a state of continual flux and change. It is also emphasized that the original design was also continuously reduced in scale and grandeur by the physical necessities and practicalities of the actual construction process. "…construction was constantly changing, but simultaneously limiting the design possibilities as the building went up. The dome and towers in particular "...represent, in their final form designed about 1704, the line of contact between on the one hand an imagination without limits and, on the other, a range of statical options that was constantly narrowed by the progress of construction" ( Chiu 105).

The most impressive achievement from a building and engineering point-of-view of the cathedral was the dome. As Sutcliffe emphasizes; "The dome, with its timber structure, false…

Sources Used in Documents:


1600-1830: Baroque. Web. <>

Baroque Architecture. Web. <>

Beard, Geoffrey. The Work of Christopher Wren. Edinburgh: John Bartholomew, 1982.

Blunt, Anthony. Borromini. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979.

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